On Wednesday night the Eastlake Freshmen team scored touchdowns on each of its first seven possessions and ultimately defeated their rivals from Skyline 55-28. The victory secured an undefeated (8-0) season for the Freshman Wolves and was also the first win for Coach Daugherty against the Spartans.
The scoring got started quickly, as Skyline received the opening kick-off and moved quickly down the field scoring a touchdown and succeeding with a 2-point conversion in the first two minutes of play. Eastlake answered right back with multi-purpose threat Nate Sutter scoring a touchdown quickly on the Wolves’ first possession. After a failed PAT attempt by Eastlake the score was 8-6 in favor of Skyline.
On Skyline’s next possession, Eastlake’s defense forced a fumble on the second play from scrimmage and defensive lineman Cameron Lynch recovered it around mid-field. The Wolves moved to ball quickly, with quarterback Dalton Chandler scrambling for a first down and running back Austin Gray chipping in an 11 yard run of his own. After two first downs, Chandler took the ball through a nice hole between the tackles on what looked like a designed QB run, then cut back hard to the outside and snaked his way into the end-zone for a 20+ yard rushing TD. Eastlake attempted a 2-point conversion of its own following the TD, but it failed, leaving the score at 12-8.
Skyline’s next possession was fairly brief, as a holding call against the Spartans and a pass break-up by Brody Leslie lead to a punt after a single first down.
The Wolves took over at their own 34 yard line following the punt. On the first play of the possession, Chandler rolled out and launched a pass while on the run that hit Sutter in stride on the hash. A combination of Sutter’s quick cuts and some nice downfield blocking by the other receivers allowed Sutter to take the ball all the way to the Skyline end-zone for a 66 yard touchdown. Sutter also carried the ball into the end-zone on the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt to make the score 20-6.
Skyline’s next possession was a three-and-out with cornerback Vini Monteiro making a tackle-for-loss on a flanker screen and Gray nearly intercepting a pass from his inside linebacker position.
Another Skyline put gave the ball back to Eastlake. Sutter returned the punt about 55 yards and nearly scored, but the great return was nullified by a holding flag. Instead of starting the drive inside the Spartan red zone, the Wolves’ offense started at their own 36 yard line. It didn’t end up making much difference, as Gray chipped in another long run and Chandler found Cade Prinzivalli about 30 yards downfield on a nice play-action pass. Chandler added 15 yards on a QB sweep before Sutter carried the ball into the end-zone on a cross-buck out of the two-back shotgun formation. Kicker Taige Thornton converted the PAT to secure a 27-6 lead for Eastlake.
On their next possession the Spartans fought back, with the Spartans scoring an apparent 47 yard rushing touchdown on the first play of the drive. But a hold on the play nullified the big gain. Skyline rebounded from that setback with a strong eight-play drive that gathered two first downs before culminating in a touchdown on a perfectly thrown slant pass on 4th down. After a 2-point conversion the Eastlake lead was narrowed to 27-14.
Following Skyline’s kickoff Eastlake scored again, this time on a 51 yard Chandler run on a designed QB keeper. Another Thornton PAT left the score at 34-14.
A bad sequence by Eastlake’s defense allowed the Spartans to score again before half-time. A roughing the passer call against the Wolves and several missed tackles on a screen pass and another run allowed Skyline to move 59 yards on seven plays. Another successful 2-point conversion by Skyline left the score 34-22 at the half.
Eastlake received the ball to start the second half and Chandler hit Sutter with a pass for a 74 yard touchdown on the second play of the drive. That left the score at 41-22 following another successful Thornton PAT.
Skyline’s first second half possession started out promisingly enough for the visitors, with a long gain on a run up the middle, but it was another big play that ended up being nullified by a holding penalty. Instead the Spartans went three-and-out again, with Prinzivalli contributing a big (5 yard) tackle-for-loss on a Skyline toss sweep that he blew up in the backfield.
Following Skyline’s punt the Wolves’ offense went to work from the Skyline 45 yard line. Things got a little ragged for the Eastlake offense on this drive, with yet another holding call ruining a nice gain on a third down pass play and several missed connections between Chandler and his (usually open) receivers. But a big scramble by Chandler on third down extended the drive and receiver Jack Rud was able to break contain and run for a touchdown on a slickly executed jet sweep. Another successful PAT from Thornton left the score at 48-22.
Skyline and Eastlake then traded turnovers over the next four plays from scrimmage. When the dust from that little mess cleared, the Spartan offense was working from its own 33 yard line. The Eastlake defense bowed up again forcing the Spartans to punt after going three-and-out again. The key defensive plays on that sequence were Prinzivalli knocking down a pass that he very nearly intercepted and linebacker/strong safety Mihir Vadlamanis alertly reading a screen pass that Skyline was trying to set up and forcing the quarterback to simply throw the ball away with his perfect coverage.
Skyline’s punt was fielded by Nate Sutter who made an initial tackler miss, cut to his right and found himself in the clear with a wall of blockers between him and anybody in a white jersey. That spelled trouble for the Spartans. Although a couple members of the coverage unit managed to get near him, Sutter blew past one and cut underneath the other, taking it all the way back for a 60+ yard touchdown. Another Thornton PAT left the score at 55-22.
Skyline managed to score one last touchdown in the fourth quarter while a number of Eastlake reserves got extended playing time. Linebacker Justin Lewis, defensive back Dmytro Belya and running back Jordan Garcia all made nice plays over the last few possessions of the game.
Photos courtesy of Kelly Chandler